GREAT LAKES (NNS) (NNS) -- Seaman Recruit Nicholas Zeichner, Division 943, graduated as the top Sailor from Recruit Training Command, earning the Military Excellence Award Aug. 30.
Zeichner, from Miami Shores, Florida, said he joined the Navy to pursue his goal of becoming an astronaut.
“The Navy has already offered me opportunities and put me in circumstances that I have never been afforded in my civilian life,” he said. “It has given me the opportunity to dive in nuclear subs and test my limits so that I can one day become an astronaut and serve my country in ways not yet dreamed of.”
Zeichner, 22, is a 2015 graduate of Doctors Charter School in Miami Shores, Florida, where he was a member of the swim team. He has participated in long-distance swimming, triathlons and mountaineering. Zeichner attended the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida, where he was pursuing a degree in coastal biology and career as a botanist.
Zeichner is assigned the rate of Electrician’s Mate (Nuclear).
The Navy Club of the United States Military Excellence Award is the top award presented to the No. 1 recruit of their graduating training group. The MEA is awarded to the recruit that best exemplifies the qualities of enthusiasm, devotion to duty, military bearing and teamwork. The award placed him at the pinnacle of today’s newest Sailors. Zeichner is awarded a flag letter of commendation.
Zeichner said he was honored and surprised to receive the MEA.
“Winning the Military Excellence Award means everything to me,” he said. “Knowing that all the hard work and struggle showed and was not forgotten by my Recruit Division Commanders and my shipmates. The moment I received the award, I was shocked and sent into another world knowing all the improvements I made, all the changes in me, had paid off.”
Zeichner credited his RDCs, Operations Specialist 1st Class Danielle Ward, Operations Specialist 1st Class Marcus Harris, and Aviation Structural Mechanic (Equipment) 1st Class Daeshawn Tidwell for their leadership and guidance.
“Petty Officer Harris inspired me in a way that a lot of my division did not see or respect, which is true military bearing and always having the devotion to do the job no matter how tired he was or how hard the job was,” Zeichner said.
Zeichner also found a new appreciation for his father, Adam Zeichner.
“My father has always been someone that I could count on and in these last nine weeks, I have found a new respect for him, which I most certainly did not have before,” he said. “He taught me to work hard, to be motivated, treat others with the respect that they deserve and make good choices, I cannot thank him enough for being my father and always having my back.”
Meeting the high standards his RDCs set was the toughest part of boot camp for Zeichner.
“It changed me as a person because my RDCs saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself until my third week in boot camp,” he said. “It changed me for the better and has made me into the person that my RDCs knew I could be and the person I need to become to make my dreams a reality.”
After graduation, Zeichner will attend Electrician’s Mate Nuclear Field “A” School in Charleston, South Carolina. Electrician’s Mate (Nuclear) operate and maintain Naval Nuclear propulsion plants and associated equipment. They supervise and administer Naval Nuclear propulsion plant operations, and thoroughly understand reactor, electrical, and mechanical theory involved in the operation of the nuclear reactor, steam plant, propulsion plant, and auxiliary equipment.
Boot camp is approximately eight weeks and all enlistees into the U.S. Navy begin their careers at the command. Training includes physical fitness, seamanship, firearms, firefighting and shipboard damage control along with lessons in Navy heritage and core values, teamwork and discipline. More than 35,000 recruits are trained annually at RTC and begin their Navy careers.
For more news from Recruit Training Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/rtc/
For more news from Recruit Training Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/rtc/.